Friday, July 25, 2008

Hunt The Dark Knight (DC)
Dark Knight Returns #3 When: May 1986
Why: Frank Miller How: Frank Miller

The Story So Far...
They talk about a Man of Steel. An Amazon Princess.
But they never talk about the mean one. The cruel one. The one who couldn't fly or bend steel in his bare hands. The one who scare the crap out of everybody and laughed at all of the rest of us for being the envious cowards we were.
No, they never talk about him. Say his name and watch Dibny's face sag so bad his jaw hits the bar.

Not a man among them wants to hear about Batman.
Was he quietly assassinated? Or did he just decide we weren't worth the grief?
The question hangs in the air for a moment or two, then Jones springs for a round for everybody and himself.

The get talking again. About the old days. The glory days.
They remember. They were right there. In the thick of it. Back then.
It wasn't so long ago. We had heroes.

Tale of the Tape...
ARTWORK: Ed McGuinnessARTWORK: Doug MahnkeStrength: Batman 3 (Athlete)
Intelligence: Batman 5 (Professor)
Speed: Batman 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Draw 5 (Marathon)
Agility: Batman 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting Ability: Batman 5 (Martial Artist)
Energy Power: Batman 4 (Arsenal)

- After witnessing the street murder of his parents, the young Bruce Wayne's destiny was forever shaped to be one dedicated to an ideal. Having spent his formative years studying the various sciences, martial arts, and crime fighting techniques, Bruce is ultimately inspired to become the one-man war on the criminal element in Gotham City: Batman.

Perhaps Batman's greatest power is the millions inherited from his industrialist parents, and the various facilities that came with that. They prove crucial in the design and construction of his many weapons, which are typically non-lethal, and have a variety of uses.

Complimented by his keenly strategic mind is Batman's expertise in the martial arts. He is extensively trained in multiple fighting styles, and commonly regarded to be one of the greatest hand-to-hand fighters in the world.
He is also extremely proficient in general urban warfare.

- It has been claimed that he was the victim of one very bad day, which ended with a fall into a vat of chemicals that bleached his skin, dyed his hair, and twisted his face into a permanent grin. The truth of his name and origins remain unknown, but as the Joker, he is one of the most feared killers in Gotham City.

Joker is known to have an aptitude for creating and working with toxins and other chemicals, favouring trademark concoctions that induce uncontrolled laughter, facial distortion, and often, death. Joker is also a proficient strategist, who is said to regularly reinvent his identity as a part of his vendetta against Batman.
The Joker, though not a skilled fighter, is shown to have an inhuman capacity for pain tolerance and recovery.

Additional: While Batman has one of the most impressive lists of nemesis, few characters reach the status of Joker as his arch-villain. Joker's rivalry with Batman has arguably produced the definitive vision of the classic comic book supervillain, defined by; false deaths, personal attacks (deaths), trap and baits, and a continuing relationship unlikely to be resolved.

Joker's unpredictability often means Batman is forced into a responsive position. The Dark Knight's dedication to non-lethal justice is the means by which Joker maintains his villainous presence, with an uncanny knack for escape.
Despite their continuous rivalry, it is Batman who has a distinct advantage over Joker in physical confrontations, and regularly dishes out defeat accordingly.
Examples include; Batman #614, Detective Comics #781 & Batman #663.

History: Batman (3-0-0)
Math: Batman Ranking: Batman (#1)

What Went Down...
A plague of carnage has come to Gotham County Fair. A sleeping terror awoken by a stirring bat. Ruby read lips on a chalk faced grin. It would be a silly death.
The Joker's obsession, once initiated, is predictable, as always. He knows the Dark Knight will come to defuse his exploding babies. To take him back to jail. He knows...

Batman and Robin arrive at the fair by glider.
Joker's chronies spot it's dark shadow from a mile off. The fat one boards the rollercoaster and promises he'll "make sure the bomb goes off." The mothers and fathers make their children than the Joker for their death. Stupid.

One of the robotic dolls flies toward the Batman.
He coaches Robin to remain calm. Lets it get nice and close before they dive.
His pasty face glowing in the explosion, the Joker lets off a smile. Not a twisted grin. Not a gaping snarl. An affectionate smile to greet an old friend.

Joker opens fire as the girl wonder lands on the coaster line.
The gunfire finally tells the faceless herd to panic. They show an incredible aptitude for getting in the way, but the Batman's grappling line still manages to snag the Joker's robotic doll. Green gas begins to pour out of it, and the Joker runs laughing. "I should have known," the Batman thinks.

Amidst a green haze the Joker snatches an innocent young girl.
Our ceremony. That same old dance. He's playing by the wrong rules.

Joker's itchy finger gets off a shot by accident. His fingers tighten. His body recoils and tenses as a batarang buries itself where an eye should be. The Joker runs and Batman - a silhouette - drags the hostage through the green mist. He's firing blind. He's running again.

Joker runs to the house of mirrors, pushing ignorant fair-goers aside.
A child taunts the Joker and becomes another hostage. Batman's scowling mug surrounds the Joker. He growls the command, "Put the boy down..."

This time Joker's gamble pays off. He hears the bull coming through the glass and gets one shot off. He puts the slug deep in Batman's gut, but the kid gets out okay. Batman too, really. He ducks a second shot and smacks the Joker in his gnashing mouth and sends his chalky head careening into a mirror.

Joker takes a couple more shots. If his gun was loaded they'd have killed.
He drops under another lumbering old punch from Batman and slides a clip into his pistol. He's as fast as ever. He blows off a few more rounds, each one hitting mirror Batmen. The dark knight welcomes it. A waste of ammo.

Joker flees into the night where Robin battles his henchman on the rollercoaster. Explosions fill the night sky, while Joker shoots at random. He clears a path to the tunnel of love. Slowly, like an old warship, the Batman follows. He clutches his bleeding gut and promises the two bodies floating in the water will be the last two if he can just stay awake. Finish him quickly. Stay awake.

Like a marine predator his sinks into the murky filth of the tunnel's river.
Batman has no idea high above the fairground his little soldier is becoming a woman. Her battle is about to end in blood. Batman's will be... cleaner.

Batman bursts from the depths to ambush the Joker. As fast as ever, Joker pulls a blade and prepares to fight. Waist deep in water, they do just that.

Batman takes Joker's gun away, so he puts a knife in him.
The cut is clean. It doesn't slow Batman down. He grabs at the Joker's pasty face. The face that's haunted his dreams with thoughts just like this. He squeezes and twists ignoring the Joker's frenzy. Voices echo through the tunnel, calling the Batman a murderer. The Joker slumps in the water.

The twist of Joker's neck has left him paralyzed, but it's all part of the plan. He taunts the hunched dark knight. Promises they'll kill him for this. Takes pleasure in Batman's weakness and twists. Laughing like a madman he twists. Through the echoed cracking he laughs and he twists.

The witnesses will say it was the Batman. When the feds find his broken body, they won't know about the silent laugh. The last laugh that taunts his enemy.
The Joker is dead. Long live the Joker.

The Hammer...
After blinding, paralyzing, and prompting a suicide, the dark knight, Batman, emerges grim, gritty, and victorious!

At this point we're running atrociously behind schedule, now well into August and the beginning of the Olympics, but you'll remember, all those weeks ago, there was a little known film called The Dark Knight in cinemas which we wanted to acknowledge!

In our previous Joker-entry [Batman #614] we talked about the relationship of the Batman and Joker, and this was supposed to be a resolution to that discussion. I wonder, however, if it might prompt reflection on the opposite.

Plotlines in the Bat-books currently revolve around concepts put forward in Grant Morrison's RIP, which seem to suggest a concluding world without a Batman!
Advanced speculation had fans questioning the mortality of the Dark Knight; particularly in a world reeling from the death of Captain America [#25]. Word, however, from above, was said to have nixed any intentions to eliminate the franchise stock of Bruce Wayne, who had not yet appeared in The Dark Knight.

Robin [title] has jumped into the speculation game with a new storyline featuring Robin and Spoiler dealing with the apparent absence of the Batman, and a situation that forces young Drake to don the Bat-mantle.
This is just the first tease for a post-RIP plotline announced at San Diego Comic-Con which will pit various supporting characters in a race for the Batman identity. Promotional art shows contenders for the battle for the cowl, from left-to-right, as: Selina Kyle, Thomas Elliot, Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, and Tim Drake.

So, at this point, in terms of the relationship between Batman and Joker, there's a question whether Batman will even survive to see it. Not that that itself isn't a conclusion, as proposed by Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, which initially depicts Joker as a catatonic depressive in a mental asylum. Nor is it likely many are expecting Bruce Wayne's demise to be permanent, if even a death, at all.

There's something incredibly appropriate about Miller's end to one of comics' most famous rivalries. Batman remains true to his mantra, whilst still seeing an end to the villain, whose legacy is that of the furor created by the implication of a murder (per witness accounts). In a modern society that's explicitly dissociated with Batman and his methods, the perception shift is simple.

The success of the recent film brings home the idea that Batman's relevance could never realistically be reduced in the way Miller's dystopian future depicts. The longevity of the franchise will always mean Batman is at odds with the Joker - something suggested by Nolan's film, which does not forecast a conventional filmic conclusion to the characters' relationship.

Many fans look to a conclusion in a sequel, but I wonder, under these conditions, if it might not finally be an era where we witness the mainstream initiation of fans into the comics form. A form that tells these stories with a pseudo-realism of sequential constant, not necessarily preoccupied with the dwelling stop-start of act-driven storytelling.

Just a note: the opening Story So Far section features an exerpt from a Jimmy Olsen article about the post-superhero climate of the DKR universe. It references several heroes and villains specifically, some of whom show up in DK2. The article is included in the collected edition (available below).

That's about it for now, folks.
Unfortunately the arrival of this epic battle on the Infinite Wars has come at a time when we're not quite as focused as we'd like. With the Olympics upon us, I hope we can see a content revival through a shift back to statistical fun. Despite his prevelance on the site, you can be sure the Joker won't be winning gold after his string of defeats!
Stay tuned for the belated August Monthly Punch-Up to find out more about the Super Stock ranks!

The Fight: 5 The Issue: 7

That brings our month of Joker and "The Dark Knight" features to a close, but that doesn't mean the Batmania needs to end! By browsing through the Amazonian Gift Shoppe you'll be able to find a range of collected Batman stories, all at affordable prices, thanks to Amazon! By using the purchase links provided you also help sponsor the Infinite Wars, which is the Bat-tastic thing to do! We recommend classics that have appeared on the site, like: The Dark Knight Returns, DC: The New Frontier, Batman: The Long Halloween, Batman: Dark Victory, Batman: Hush, The Dark Knight Strikes Again, to name just a few!

No comments: